Monday, April 28, 2014

Brain Implants

One of my assignments for an Ethics in Psychology class I am taking was to write a response to a news article. I found one that discusses  the future of neuroprosthetics (aka brain implants). Below is the response I wrote for class, but I'm curious to know what other people think of this stuff too!

The article:

Currently, brain implants are being used to restore sight and hearing, and to help control tremors. In the future, they will likely be used to improve memory and focus, to speed learning, and to essentially give people super-human abilities. With a much greater understanding of the brain, it could be possible to create technology similar to that which was used in The Matrix to teach new skills, by essentially downloading them into the brain. Similar technology could be used to repair and enhance vision, creating night vision, automatically zooming vision, and searching the internet based on things we see. This type of technology has recently been used in the popular television show Agents of SHIELD, which allows individuals implemented with this technology to receive messages, see through walls, etc. Future technology will also lead to increased control of robotics which would be incredibly helpful for individuals who are paralyzed or have amputated limbs replaced with prosthetics. 

This type of technology clearly has great implications for the future. This technology could also be used to allow for better memory, attention, mood and alertness. This could be incredibly beneficial for individuals who suffer from disorders such as ADHD, bipolar disorders, and depression. The greater concern with this technology is in children suffering from these disorders. There is already a problem with parents wanting to medicate children for “disorders” without ever having them appropriately tested for the proper course of action. This type of technology could be very tempting for this type of parent, because it would simply require a procedure to fix all of the ‘problems’ in their child, without having to worry about daily medications, or anything of the likes.
There is also research being done by the military to “cure PTSD, depression, and pain” through the use of neuroprosthetics and electric currents. At this point in time, neither of the mentioned disorders are truly able to be cured. This is great cause for interest and would be a revolutionary treatment for all of society if it would be found to work. 

This type of technology is not something that is currently highly regarded in society. There is great concern with pushing forward with this technology before the necessary brain understanding is present. There would be an increased risk at causing more damage, rather than improving current conditions. There is also the problem of accessibility. This type of technology seems like something that would be incredibly expensive, at least at first. It seems like it would be difficult to have it be something insurance companies would be willing to cover. This, then, would exclude this ‘treatment’ to individuals who could potentially benefit from it.

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